During Lent, our midweek worship services will include reflections on the seven last words from the the cross. Here is a portion the third installment, "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise"
How many crosses does a church need?
As someone with great interest in the history of Congregational Church I can tell you that it hasn't been that long since many Congregational churches displayed no crosses in their worship spaces. The Congregationalists that fled Europe in the seventeenth century to come to New England rejected the iconography of their Anglican forebears, even crosses. They built simple worship spaces, with a high pulpit in the center symbolizing the supremacy of God's word, the Bible. That’s all that would have up here back then, a Bible, with a couple of candles so the preacher could see the words.
Our Congregationalist ancestors did not adorn their worship spaces with crosses or statues or anything else that might distract them from a focus on God’s word. They wouldn’t even have put a cross on the top of the steeple. Instead there would be a rooster to remind them of Peter’s betrayal or a weathervane like the one our beautiful steeple. They called their church buildings meetinghouses, not sanctuaries. They saw God present in all they did, and they didn't need a cross or a sanctuary to remind them that God was there.
That has changed over the years. Even most meetinghouses, like ours next door, have a cross that reminds us of Easter.
But how many crosses does a church need?
The Gospels tell us that there wasn't just one cross on that dark Friday long ago that we call good. No, there were three. Two criminals were crucified next to Jesus, one on his left and one on his right.
Read the rest of the meditation here.